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David Urquhart-Jones : Associate Artist

Urquhart-Jones attempts to reach hearts, minds and aesthetic sensibilities by creating musical experiences that are accessible, exhilarating...

Photo of David Urquhart-Jones

David Urquhart-Jones attempts to reach the hearts, minds and aesthetic sensibilities of both practitioners and listeners by creating musical experiences that are accessible, exhilarating and reflective of the stylistic pluralism which is a reality of contemporary musical life.

Urquhart-Jones is widely experienced as a pianist, orchestral player, conductor and teacher. His work as a performer has occurred almost entirely in the classical field, but he is also a talented jazz pianist.

Now, as a full-time composer, his work reflects familiarity with both classical and jazz-related styles. Engagement as a conductor with amateur community choral and orchestral groups have brought a keen awareness to some lack of connection between the classical music industry, the music education enterprise and what is actually going on in the musical life of the community. The result, he believes, has been a tragic ignorance of 20th-century master works and a refusal, by many music educators, to incorporate jazz-related styles, with their requirements for improvisation, in curricula planned for young musicians.

Inspired by Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, Milhaud, Matyas Seiber, Don Banks and Claude Bolling, among others, Urquhart-Jones writes music that combines jazz and 'classical' styles. In these pieces 'improvisational' episodes are precisely scored but chord symbols are given which present an option for the real thing. Many of the ensemble pieces in this genre were written for colleagues: professional classical performers with a desire to play jazz. An example of the latter is Three and Easy for flute, piano and acoustic or electric bass. Many works, mainly pieces for the piano, are written for young musicians.

In a more serious vein, Urquhart-Jones has written music which, for want of a better term, might be described as 'straight'. Among these are works for piano, small ensemble and full orchestra. Most recently completed works in this category include Three Pieces for flute and piano and a clarinet quintet.

Karen Lonsdale, Gordon Yemm and Dean Watkins are among respected musicians who have performed his pieces. Urquhart-Jones's piano books have been enthusiastically endorsed by the many teachers who use them.

Academic and practical preparations for a career in music were accomplished in London and at the University of Michigan. In 1977, Urquhart-Jones was admitted to the American National Music Honors Society in 'recognition of superior musicianship and scholarship'.

David Urquhart-Jones — current to December 2012